When someone gives Lindsay Walker of Walker Jewelry a chance, she’ll take it and run wild. When she got her first metalworking job with Urban Electric Company in Charleston, South Carolina, she had a background in ceramics sculpture and the drive to learn the trade from the folks who knew what they were doing. “I chanced my way in bit by bit,” Lindsay shared when we caught up at Fort Houston recently, “I got one of the old timers to teach me how to solder – and that was when I was like, oh, I love this!”
From there, Lindsay’s path took her to Denmark to work as a musician, where she applied for a jewelry design program. “The course was really designed as a master’s program for metalsmiths, but they let me participate. My teacher told me I was the wildcard and that they just wanted to see what I would do,” she said. Through the program, Lindsay absorbed the Danish dedication to process and went on to continue her studies with a course in sustainable design – this time focusing on applied business practices. “It was in this program that I really established my aesthetic – I had been using a lot of plastics before, but this course showed me the value of creating with reusable, valuable materials. Of course, my designs were still ‘wild’ by Danish standards!” she laughed.
To fulfill a requirement for the sustainable design program, the “wildcard” jeweler moved to Nashville for an internship with Southern Lights Electric, then located at the original Fort Houston. She made herself at home, bartending on the side, which she said was a great way for her to meet people in town and learn about the city. And though she took her jewelry business full-time about a year ago, she still worked nights behind the bar for a while. “Bartending taught me a lot of customer service skills, particularly now in talking with my custom clients to make sure that they are as satisfied as possible,” she said. Lindsay currently also works as an art handler at Cheekwood Museum of Art, assisting the curatorial staff with installing exhibits and caring for the permanent collection. Art handling, she said, helps because it requires attention to detail and thoughtfulness.
The journey is beginning to shift again as Lindsay gets herself settled into a new live-work space in Old Hickory. While around half of Walker Jewelry trade comes from markets, fairs, and online retail, the other half of Walker Jewelry is custom work – wedding rings, engagement rings, and the odd belt buckle for good measure. She says that the biggest lesson that she has learned so far is to not be proud and to not turn down work because you think you’re too good for it. She knows she’ll eventually be able to turn things down, but for now she says, “the hustle is constantly being hungry to learn more and being open minded – I’m not being dogmatic about my art.” Right now, she says, she’s working on planning for the long-term, applying what she learned about sustainable practices to her own business model. “Everything counts, everything matters – the longevity of a business is different from the everyday hustle.”